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Wampanoag casino plan reveals vast complex

Boston, Massachusetts (AP) 9-07

The developers of a proposed casino in Middleborough are planning a vast complex with a gambling floor larger than the spaces in both casinos in neighboring Connecticut.

The 400,000-square-foot gambling floor is included in a business plan from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and developers that has been filed with the U.S. Department of the Interior, which must rule on its viability.

The floor is a third bigger than the gambling space at Foxwoods casino in Ledyard, Conn., and Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., which are among the world's largest casinos.

The 850,000-square-foot complex, to be on 550 acres, would include a 10,000-seat auditorium for sporting events and shows, 180 table games and 4,000 slot machines.

But the size of the planned gambling floor could easily accommodate up to 8,000 slot machines, Clyde Barrow, a gambling researcher at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, told The Boston Globe.

“They must be planning to expand the number of slot machines because, at 400,000 square feet, there is lots of room,” he said.

Foxwoods has 7,200 slot machines, with plans to expand to 8,700. Mohegan Sun has 6,200 slot machines with plans to expand to 7,600.

The plan estimates there is $1.5 billion in unmet demand for gambling in New England.

Scott Ferson, a spokesman for the tribe, said the plan “speaks for itself” and declined further comment.

The plan was drawn up by Mohegan Sun developers Sol Kerzner and Len Wolman, who are in partnership with the tribe.

Lawmakers still must decide if casino gambling should be legalized in Massachusetts. Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to announce his position next week. The town of Middleborough has voted in favor of a deal that pays it a minimum $7 million a year in lieu of taxes in exchange for hosting the casino.

Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.boston.com/globe

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